This was our second voyage on the Liberty of the Seas, and I must say that I LOVE the ship. It is a magnificent vessel, perfect sized and full of amazing amenities and features. The ship is well-maintained, clean and full of fun. Every amenity on the ship oozes quality, whether the Flow-rider, rock climbing wall and jogging track on the sports deck, the excellent variety of lounges and bars such as the Viking Crown Club, the Schooner Bar or Boleros, or the staterooms, roomy and well thought out. Each area immerses you in its theme, drawing you in and making you part of it. The decor of the ship is classy and classical, very well done.
Our Promenade stateroom was a pleasant surprise. We cruised last year on Liberty in a Balcony stateroom, and I was little concerned with my decision to downgrade to the Promenade. Although nothing beats a balcony, the room was roomy and fun. Our 6th deck room afforded views of the promenade and the ensuing parades and revelry. Pretty Cool. As we were cruising December 15-19, I brought a string of old-style colored Christmas lights, and strung them in our promenade window. Many people smiled or waved at us in our room. The one downside of course is privacy. The 6th deck promenade room feels like its on the promenade, we kept our curtains closed most of the time. Still, I felt the room was better and roomier than an Inside stateroom.
The staff of the Liberty of the Seas were generally good, but our room steward, Howard Bailey from Jamaica was phenomenal. A very personable young man that really went above and beyond to provide the few additional requests that I asked for (a full ice bucket and extra cruise compasses). I was sure to note Mr. Bailey's exemplary service in the cruise survey. The dining staff was steady and attentive. I have a few less than super encounters, including mind-numbingly slow service at Johnny Rocket's and a douchey server at Sorrento's.
My biggest disappointment on the Liberty of the Seas was the quality of the food. We ate dinner every night in our dining room, and the food was mediocre. The only five-star meal we ate the entire cruise was the formal night menu item of Fillet of Tenderloin. Other main course dishes were either over cooked (sea bass, new york strip steak) frozen solid (shrimp cocktail appetizer), or unappealing (shrimp ravioli, chicken Marsala). Many dinner items were okay, such as the mozzarella caprese and the rigatoni, but nothing special.
As for the other dining opportunities, we ate at the Windjammer/Jade buffets and were equally unimpressed. Hamburgers and Hot Dogs every day? The carving station had lamb two of four days, whole chickens one day, and a pork roast one day. Whole Chickens? Where's the beef? No prime rib or roast beef, weird combinations such as curry pork and mashed potatoes, tator tots for breakfast and the worst biscuits and gravy I've ever tasted. I wouldn't care so much as its a buffet, but the limited hours are puzzling as well.
Another disappointment is the number of extra charge venues. Chops charges a $25 cover per person and the I have to pay $15 more for Fillet Mignon or $24 more for Lobster? No Way. Ben and Jerry's costs as much on the ship as it does in the mall and the new Cupcake Cupboard is a ripoff with $2.75 cupcakes. The food at the Promenade Cafe and Sorrento's is surprising good, but the long lines and lack of sitting space ruin that experience as well. the coffee in the dining room and windjammer was terrible, but the Seattle's Best coffee at the Promenade Cafe tastes great. Typical nickel and dime tactics, I guess.
The entertainment must be the saving grace for RCCL. The shows were fantastic, especially the Saturday Night Fever show. Excellent music, choreography and effects made this one a winner. The other shows were all excellent as well, be it the Ice Show, Comedian, Magician or the signature showcase.
The Cruise Director and his staff were great, Mike is the the best cruise director I've encountered yet. Funny and personable, he really seems to enjoy his job.
Lastly, I'll talk about the ports. Embarkation at Port Everglades needs improvement, as the lines extend forever outdoors. As it was the middle of December, weather was good, but if it had rained or been any hotter, that wait would have been unbearable. Check-in after security was quick, but the Pier 25 Area needs an upgrade. Traffic chokes as piers 21-26 all funnel into one area. I couldn't imagine how bad it would have been if two or three ships were in port simultaneously (especially Oasis and Allure).
I really love this ship, but I feel like RCCL is trying to suck every penny it can out of its passengers, charging for quality items that used to be included in the price of a ticket. Improve the food quality or lose me.